A week ago it emerged that the News Of The World had been hacking into the voicemails of dead children. We donned out grubby macs and cheap trilbies and set out to expose the evil doers. We planted porn in Andy Coulson's bin, handed out bungs at the police bravery awards and tried to doorstep Rupert Murdoch. The result is a very silly short film NEWS OF THE SCREWED for Don't Panic TV.
When we set out do track down those responsible for the heinous crimes carried out by the News Of The World, I needed the help of someone who wouldn't let the rules get in the way of a good story and. Because the Screws hacks were otherwise engaged, I called in Heydon Prowse, best known for digging up Alan Duncan MP's lawn into the shape of a pound sign after it was revealed he'd claimed gardening costs on expenses. We donned grubby raincoats, put on trilby hats and went in search of the villains who've been [abusing]the British public for so long.
First stop was Andy Coulson's house. It was Tuesday night, two days before his arrest. As we pulled up, we saw a gaggle of journalists and a TV crew, religiously staying off his property and on the pavement as per PCC rules. We swept straight past them up the drive, and a hack demanded to know who we were. "News Of the World", we barked. This got them very excited and they followed us up to the front door, where we rang the bell. There was a commotion inside as various lights went on and off and dogs barked, but no-one answered. So, we did what tabloid hacks are trained to do: yelled obscenities and threats through the letterbox and banged on the window. After a few moments the real hacks realised that by filming us and taking photos they were also in breach of PCC rules, and they scampered back to the pavement. "The police might get called!" one of them warned us. Well, with the money Andy has allegedly been paying them you'd hope he'd get decent protection.
We planted a can of Special Brew, a teen porn mag and a pack of Rizlas in his bin, then 'discovered' this incriminating evidence and marched back up to his front door, shouting through the letterbox allegations that he was an alcoholic, dope-smoking nonce. Taking his silence as confirmation, we were satisfied we'd done our journalistic duty and made our excuses and left. To the pub.
On Thursday, News International announced that it was firing everyone at the paper except the people responsible. We also learned that members of the Met Police had allegedly been taking bribes from Screws hacks, and that some of the transactions had taken place at a McDonalds in Wapping. This last fact tickled me, and I decided to see how easy it was for upstanding journalists to bribe a cop in this town.
Fortuitously, that evening it was the Police Bravery Awards at the Savoy, so I stuffed a load of readies into paper McDonalds bags, and headed down to the Strand to see what I could get for my money.
I bumped into a PC on the way to London's most respected hotel. "Excuse me, are the Police Bribery Awards on here tonight?" I asked. "Yes sir,' he replied. 'Round to the front." Down on the riverside, I pitched up to the entrance where there were three other media types and about a hundred officers looking out for trouble makers. A car pulled up and a rotund senior policeman struggled to get out - presumably, all those Big Macs had taken their toll. I approached the car, opened the door for him and tried to help him out, with the intention of slipping a bung into the pocket of his sizeable uniform. Unfortunately, the chaps from the bomb squad took umbrage at this behaviour and restrained me. "What's this?", a very large officer demanded, grabbing my Maccy D's bag. "Wink Wink, nudge nudge, say no more," I whispered conspiratorially, flashing him a wodge of moulah. "Give that to me!" he hissed, snatching the bung from my hands. "Easy tiger, enough to go round," I said. He looked me in the eye, which was twitching like the bloke's in The Hurt Locker. "You shouldn't be doing this!", he said. I apologised: "Sorry sarge. Is it better to do bank transfer or cheque?" He snatched my other bung bag and stormed off into the hotel.
Fortunately I had a few more tucked into my dirty mac, and when he came back out had two more bags ready and waiting. Now PC Shortfuse got really mad and rummaged through my pockets. Discovering that the wads of 'money' were actually novelty napkins printed with ten pound notes, they told me they were detaining me under the forgery act. "Who do you work for?" they demanded. "News International." I replied. One of the more reasonable coppers raised an eyebrow to indicate how little he'd care if I spent the night in the cells. "Who are you really?'. "Er... a media tit," I confessed. They gave me back my bungs. "I think you should go to the pub, sir, or we're going to lose our sense of humour." I went to the pub.
Once refreshed, we jumped in a cab down to Wapping. Outside the gates of News Int was a line of OB vans so long that they could be seen from space. But we sped past to the McDonalds down the road, the spot where NOTW hacks had allegedly slipped the Met officers their bungs over their morning Mcmuffins. How easy would it be for the staff to facilitate a McBribe? I sauntered up to the kiosk and ordered a Big Mac. As the nice man served it up, I produced a brown envelope: "Could you guys look after this for my mate Andy Hayman?"
Hayman was the cop in charge of the original phonehacking enquiry that failed to fully digest the mountain of explosive evidence in its possession. I should add that there is no suggestion that Hayman took bribes, but he did go and work for The Times - also owned by News International.
"Could you take this for my pal Andy?" I repeated. "How long will he be?", my server asked. "Not long" I said. "You won't miss him - shiny uniform, squad car, flashing lights." The nice man took my McBung and wrote "Andy Hayman" on the back. "He'd better be here by 1am before I clock off." Job done.
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